Pubdate: Thu, 01 Mar 2012
Source: Summit Daily News (CO)
Copyright: 2012 Summit Daily News
Author: Caddie Nath


Commissioners Eye July 1 Deadline For Local Medical Marijuana Laws

Trailing years behind the implementation of local towns' medical 
marijuana retail laws, the county government is treading slowly to 
develop its own regulations.

The Summit Board of County Commissioners say they do plan to 
implement local policies before the July 1 deadline. They also plan 
to keep their medical marijuana rules in line with those of Frisco, 
Breckenridge and Silverthorne.

Despite ongoing discussions among the commissioners and county staff, 
little else has been decided so far.

"It seemed like we were on the same page . that the county and the 
towns should be fairly equal in terms of processes so businesses are 
not dealing with different laws for each community," Commissioner Dan 
Gibbs said. "We are really just in the discussion phase, so we 
haven't adopted any policy yet. We're gathering as much information 
as possible."

The county's policy action will likely be dependent on the 
recommendations of the countywide planning commission, which will 
discuss the medical marijuana regulations at its meeting in March.

The county is considering policies that might only allow grow 
operations or restrict medical marijuana centers - retail locations - 
to commercially zoned areas, and at least 1,000 feet away from schools.

There are few viable locations for retail locations in unincorporated 
Summit County (areas outside of towns), according to staff reports.

If the county does not implement regulations by July 1, it will 
default to the state's policies, which would cost the local 
government almost all control over which, where and how many medical 
marijuana businesses are opened in unincorporated Summit County, 
according to a staff report. Under state regulations, local officials 
would also be unable to regulate centers' signs, size or odor.

At least one person in the local medical marijuana industry say he's 
glad to see the county taking action and prefer to see effective 
regulations in place, even if they take some time to develop and implement.

"I got the impression they don't want to do it twice," said Jerry 
Olson, owner of Frisco's Medical Marijuana of the Rockies. "It's 
really nice to see them actually commit themselves to developing 
regulations that fit with the Summit County people."

The commissioners have stalled on regulations since 2009, favoring a 
sweeping ban on medical marijuana businesses while waiting for 
changing state laws to stabilize.

County officials are still side-stepping potential policy landmines - 
including a federal crackdown, a number of proposed state laws and a 
legalization measure on the ballot in November - that could change 
Colorado's medical marijuana landscape over the next few months, 
commissioners said.

"In my opinion, it's really a moving target," Gibbs said. "Especially 
looking at what the feds may or may not do, what the state may or may 
not do. . There is a lot going on."

The federal government forced nearly two dozen Colorado medical 
marijuana centers operating within 1,000 feet of schools to relocate 
or close their doors this week.

The Denver Post contributed to the reporting of this story.
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart